Friday, January 8, 2010

Caliente Camp: Part 6

Our truck mishaps in the summer of 1978 were fairly rare, but they began while we were still at the Caliente camp. [Caliente Camp series; Caliente Camp Continued: Part 5.] The first incident didn't seem like a big deal. The helicopter was down for a few days after one of our many fuel-filter problems, so we did some ground reconnaissance by truck.

Click image to enlarge.

That day, Stuart and I had driven southwest along the Kane Springs Wash dirt road to take some samples in Kane Springs Valley. We were on dirt roads most of the day, crossing the coalescing alluvial fans coming out of the Delamar Mountains and driving up to the foot of the mountains to take samples.

Stuart drove. We got out at a particularly tough-looking creek crossing to put the hubs in so we would be in four-wheel drive. To put the hubs in, each geologist jumps out quickly while the truck is in neutral with the engine running and the parking brake on and rotates his or her hub from “Free” into “Locked.”

FULL STOP. -- DO NOT TRY THAT AT HOME OR ANYWHERE. -- It is now required that you put the clutch in, brake, put the truck in gear, turn the engine off, put the parking brake on, get out, and immediately chock your tires. Of course, you don't have to get out to put hubs in anymore, unless you have an antiquated or old-fashioned truck. These were the days of manual hubs. Later, with more experience, I would have put the hubs in much earlier, soon after crossing onto dirt, but at the time, we discussed when to put the hubs in at some length - Stuart did not want to put them in early, preferring, I guess, to tough it out.

Click image to enlarge.

So there we were, at our creek crosssing. Maybe we were on this unlikely looking road on our way to Kane Springs. (And maybe we were on some other alluvial fan entirely. Not trying to be vague - I didn't check these roads out, and don't know if I'd recognize the place anyway.) We discussed putting the hubs in, decided to do it, did our routine of getting out and rotating the hubs, and then jumped back in the truck. I thought the truck acted as though it was still in two-wheel drive; Stuart was sure it was in 4WD. As we conversed some more, it became clear that Stuart thought he had memorized the hub rotation direction and had concluded, without looking at the hubs, that his side was already in 4WD.

Later in the day, it became clear that we had driven around for some time with his hub out and mine in, not the way a manual-hub truck is supposed to be operated. As soon as we discovered this error, we made sure the hubs were in identical positions - and because we were nearing the end of the day, we took both hubs out and drove back to camp. Stuart insisted on not reporting this incident - he was sure his mistake was of no import.

That was the first truck mishap, the minor one that occurred in Kane Springs Valley. The next one took place in Pennsylvania Canyon.

To be continued...

NOTE: Most names in these stories have been changed, on the advice of dubious council consulted friends and colleagues, to protect the innocent other geologists and related field-demented posers.


Gaelyn said...

This is great. I had a Suburban with the hubs on the wheels like that. Sure beat putting on snow chains.

Silver Fox said...

Thanks, Gaelyn!